Candidates to file for state races

Kevin Wilson

Primary voters in eastern New Mexico should have some choices in June to see who moves on to the general election.

With pre-primary conventions concluded for New Mexico Republicans on Saturday, and the Democratic pre-primaries completed a week ago, candidates are lined up to succeed the retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. and possibly challenge Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., in the 3rd Congressional District.

For the state Legislature, two of six races in eastern New Mexico should have contested races when candidates file between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday for the June 5 primary. Candidates all file with the secretary of state’s office, with the exception of state Legislature candidates who only serve one county. Those candidates file at their respective county courthouses, also on Tuesday.

Here’s a look at state races of interest to eastern New Mexico:

Senate: The Senate seat that will be vacated by Bingaman’s retirement has frontrunners in each party that have served the 1st Congressional District — former Rep. Heather Wilson for Republicans, and current Rep. Martin Heinrich for Democrats.

Pre-primary candidates are automatically placed on the primary ballot if they receive 20 percent of the pre-primary votes. Wilson received 83 percent, compared to 17 percent for challenger Greg Sowards — who had indicated before the pre-primary he would try to acquire enough signatures to get on the ballot.

On the Democratic side, Heinrich received 55 percent of the vote, while State Auditor Hector Balderas received 45 percent.

House of Representatives: Congressional redistricting will put a southern portion of Portales along with Fort Sumner in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, served by Republican Steve Pearce. Pearce was nominated by acclimation during the pre-primary.

The 3rd District, however, should have some challenges in each primary. Lujan cruised to victory in the Democratic pre-primary, taking 93 percent of the votes. However, former Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya plans to get signatures to join him on the primary ballot.

The Republican Party will have two challengers for the office, Tucumcari rancher Jeff Byrd and retired Taos engineer Rick Newton. Both made their way onto the primary ballot, with Newton taking 65 percent of delegates and Byrd 35 percent.

Byrd felt somebody from the district needed to represent general overall values of the district.

Byrd didn’t note any policies he wanted to pass, but said, “there are specific policies I want to remove, such as Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) and the current tax code.”

Newton could not be reached, but said on his campaign website he wants to repeal the ACA as well. He also wants to repeal the 16th amendment (allowing Congress to levy an income tax) and replace it with the Fair Tax plan, a 23 percent national sales tax.

State Senate: District 7, vacated by the retiring Clint Harden, R-Clovis, has three Clovis candidates vying for the Republican nomination.

Mark Myers, son of former Curry County Sheriff Wesley Myers, is seeking public office for the first time.

“The reason I’m running for the office is I don’t agree with the politics that have been going on in New Mexico,” Myers said Friday. “What’s good for Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces may not be good for Clovis and District 7.”

He would join John Patrick “Pat” Woods, a fourth-generation Curry County farmer, and Angie Spears, clinical director of Teambuilders Counseling Service in Clovis, on the ballot.

Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, plans to run again for his Dist. 27 Senate seat, and is unaware of any primary or general election challenges as of the weekend.

Redistricting removed Dist. 42 Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, from representation of Curry and Roosevelt counties.

State House of Representatives: Dist. 67 Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Texico; Dist. 63 Rep. George Dodge, D-Santa Rosa; and Dist. 66 Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell appear to be heading into the primaries without challengers.

In District 64, Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, intends to run again and may receive a primary challenge from Wade Lopez. Lopez, who ran an unsuccessful primary challenge against Crook in 2010, said Friday he wasn’t decided but was leaning toward running for the seat.

District attorney: Current 9th Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler may be heading for a third term without a challenge from either party, as nobody has announced plans to run in the Republican or Democratic primaries.

Chandler confirmed via email Saturday he was seeking a third term in the office. He was elected in 2004, after unseating then-District Attorney Brett Carter in the Republican primary. He did not face a Democratic challenger in either 2004 or 2008.